Even after a year and a half blogging, I still feel like a newbie and look to long-standing, talented and successful bloggers for inspiration and advice. Foremost in that list is the lovely Julia Parsons, creator of A Slice Of Cherry Pie.
Blogging since 2006, Julia has created a fantastic resource of recipes, many of which will be featuring in her first book, also called A Slice Of Cherry Pie, coming out this autumn. She has contributed to magazine and newspaper features and her recipes already appear in at least one cookery book on my bookshelf.
Julia also founded the UK Food Bloggers Association to give bloggers old and new a place to meet and talk, to ask questions and share advice and to discuss all manner of food blogging topics.
I first met Julia at the UKFBA Stall at the Covent Garden Real Food Market last summer – a fantastic experience for me – and we’ve since met again at blogger events in London.
Recently, Julia e-interviewed me for her new Community feature where she showcases a range of British food blogs. I was absolutely honoured to be included (read my feature here) and cheekily asked Julia if she’d answer the same questions in return, for me to share with you here on Kavey Eats.
Over to Julia!
Name: Julia Parsons
Blogging since: 2006
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in the outskirts of London with my husband, Rob, who I’ve been married to for 6 wonderful years. When we met I had two little Lhasa Apso dogs and so it was a case of love me, love my dogs. Fortunately, Rob grew up with dogs, albeit somewhat larger ones than mine, and so this ultimatum didn’t scare him off! The dogs lived to ripe old ages and are sadly no longer with us but last year we adopted a 9 year old Labrador, Ben, who’s a big, bounding joy!
As a child I loved creative and artistic activities – writing stories; drawing and painting; taking part in plays – and as I developed a love of cooking in my twenties when I moved into my own home I found a way of combining those loves through food writing, blogging and photography. When I started writing about food and creating recipes something really connected in me and it has become an integral part of my life ever since.
How would you describe your blog?
My blog is a place where I can share this part of my life with others, where I can write about food, the recipes I create, the places I visit, and connect with people all over the world who enjoy food as much as I do.
I like to think of my blog as homely and welcoming, and I love that I visitors come from all over the world. It’s great when I receive lovely emails and messages from people telling me how they get to see places in Britain through my blog and my eyes that they otherwise wouldn’t.
Where do you find inspiration for your cooking and blogging?
Inspiration comes from everywhere; food is so much a part of my life that I find inspiration wherever I go. My cooking is very much influenced by the weather and the changing seasons; I feel very much in tune with the elements.
I particularly love this time of year, as the season changes from summer to autumn. Autumn is an incredibly rich and abundant season and there’s so much for the cook to choose from so it can be a very exciting time in the kitchen with lots of variety for the week’s meals.
What do you like the most and the least about blogging?
Blogging has had a very big and positive impact on me; much more than I ever could have imagined when I started. It’s given me a whole new direction in life and has led me to write my own cookbook, as well as enabling me to meet many great people who share my love of food.
I’ve always been fascinated by diaries and so the idea of an online diary was immediately appealing when I first came across food blogs in 2006. At the time I had already developed a love of cooking and had been collecting recipes, notes and ideas for a long time and so blogging seemed the perfect way of sharing what I was learning and also trying my hand at food writing. I wasn’t sure when I started how I would take to it but as time went on and I grew as a cook and a writer I knew I’d found something that I had a real sense of harmony with.
Despite having a background working in IT, I still find it fascinating that I can connect with so many people all over the world through the internet, and I love the interaction I have with people through my blog, and social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook. I feel very fortunate to live in this technology driven world.
It’s so great how the blogging world has grown and gone from strength to strength here in Britain. There’s an incredibly strong sense of community with friendships developing on and off line, and there’s real recognition outside of the community for the talent that’s out there.
Like many bloggers, I only wish I had more time to spend on it, especially now that I’m writing books and getting involved in other projects, but that’s something I’m working on; I’ve recently taken a decision to move from a permanent job to contract work in order to give me more flexibility.
Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?
Here is one of my favourite recipes for this time of year from my forthcoming cookbook, ‘A Slice of Cherry Pie’. In a few week’s time the pheasant season will be upon us and this is a great recipe to make the most of it. It’s very autumnal and perfect for cosy days or nights in.
Pot Roast Pheasants with Chestnuts and Mushrooms
- olive oil
- 2 oven-ready pheasants
- 1 onion , diced
- 250 g mushrooms , wiped clean and left whole, or roughly chopped if very large
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 2 sprigs thyme
- a handful flat-leaf parsley , roughly chopped
- 250 g shelled, cooked chestnuts (pre-roasted, canned or vacuum-packed)
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- seasonal vegetables and potatoes , to serve
Heat a little olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish over a high heat then add the pheasants and brown them all over. Remove them from the dish once browned and reduce the heat down to medium.
Add the onion to the dish and sauté it for a minute or so then add the mushrooms. Cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and gradually add the stock, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Add the herbs to the dish and season well.
Bring the stock up to a simmer and return the pheasants to the dish. Put on a lid and pop the dish into the oven. Add the chestnuts after the pheasants have been cooking for 40 minutes and cook them for another 20 minutes or until the pheasants are cooked through.
To check that the pheasants are cooked, pull on the legs to check that they have some give in them and can easily be pulled away from the body, and pierce the thigh with a skewer to make sure the juices run clear.
The cooking time will depend on the size of the pheasants but average sized ones should take about 1 hour.
Remove the pheasants from the dish. Spoon off any excess fat from the delicious cooking liquid and either serve it as it is or if you prefer it thicker, boil it on the hob to reduce it down. Serve the pheasant with the sauce and seasonal vegetables and potatoes.